Places in Singapore and JB to visit if you're not travelling to South Korea because of the coronavirus

Left: Starfield Library (South Korea), Right: BookXcess (JB)
PHOTO: Instagram/Fabz1993, Instagram/Jesshsy

The Covid-19 outbreak has caused many travel plans to be pushed back, especially to countries that are affected by the virus. Outside of mainland China, MOH has advised travellers to avoid non-essential travel to Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea and exercise caution when travelling to the rest of the Republic. 

So if you were one of those who chose to cancel your holiday trip to kimchi land, here are some alternative places in Singapore and Johor Bahru (JB) that may just scratch that travel itch until the epidemic is over, hopefully soon!

Before you start casting stones my way, I know these suggested alternative places are a stretch from the real deal. But we could heed PM Lee's suggestion to use this period "to visit (or re-visit) our local attractions", and take a trip to our neighbouring city to discover hidden gems in JB too.

BUSAN GAMCHEON CULTURE VILLAGE

A trip to South Korea would not be complete without visiting the Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan. The houses are painted in a sea of colours and are a sight to behold, especially when you have an aerial view of the village. 

Where: 200 Gamnae 1(il)-ro, Gamcheon 2(i)-dong, Saha-gu, Busan, South Korea

TRY: KOON SENG ROAD (SINGAPORE)

While we may not have a labyrinth of pastel-coloured houses stacked on a hill, the Katong neighbourhood is equally quaint and is laced with colourful heritage shophouses at every corner of the street.

One particular row of Peranakan shophouses has become super popular on Instagram, and it can be found along Koon Seng Road.

Where: 287 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427540

PETITE FRANCE, GAPYEONG

The Instagrammable French-inspired theme park has been made famous since appearing in a few popular K-Dramas including My Love from the Star.

Where: Hoban-ro, Oeseo-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

TRY: SPRING LABS (JB)

Spring Labs is a retail concept park filled with stores, cafes and greenery, which is also an Instagram heaven.

While not exactly French-inspired, the aesthetics of the place resembles a tiny European town. 

  

Where: Jalan Ekoflora1, Taman Ekoflora, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia.

LOTTE WORLD

Home to the world's largest indoor theme park, Lotte World also has an outdoor amusement park, shopping malls and hotels, where you can spend an entire day to explore.

Where: 240 Olympic-ro, Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea

TRY: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS SINGAPORE

You don't have to travel far to enjoy the adrenaline rush of taking spine-thrilling rides when you can head to Universal Studios Singapore in Sentosa.

You can grab a bite at a wide variety of restaurants and eateries within the park and shop at gift shops to bring home a souvenir to remember the day by.   

Where: 8 Sentosa Gateway, 098269

STARFIELD LIBRARY

Recently, the Starfield Library has become an attraction in its own right because of its sublime floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, which takes centre stage of the library.

While a small per cent of people are actually there to read, the rest are probably made up of tourists who head there just to score a winning Instagram post.  

Where: 955-9 Daechi-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea

TRY: BOOKXCESS (JB)

Just across the border in Sunway Big Box, you'll find a brand new store that's filled with affordable books.

The highlight of the bookstore is its eye-catching illuminated cube-like bookshelf right smack in the middle of the store. There's even a cafe within the bookstore to grab some coffee while you're browsing the books.

Where: Sunway Iskandar, Persiaran Medini 5, 79250 Nusajaya, Johor

KOREAN CAFES

TRY: PLUS EIGHT TWO (SINGAPORE)

Korea is all about its cafe scene with minimalist interior, toasts and bingsu. If you're looking for the same aesthetics, Plus Eight Two will quell your cravings. It also helps that the cafe is opened by BTOB's member Eunkwang, so if you're lucky, maybe you'll meet your favourite oppa.

Where: 9 Bras Basah Road, Rendezvous Gallery, #01-02, Singapore 189559

TRY: WALKING ON SUNSHINE (SINGAPORE)

Walking on Sunshine is a Korean hair salon and cafe concept in 313@Somerset, where you can get a new hairdo and indulge in fluffy souffle pancakes.

There's also a retail shop selling eyewear from Jeju island, handcrafted candles and an in-house florist. An all-in-one place where you can practise #selfcare while pretending you're in Seoul. 

Where: 181 Orchard Rd, #03-07 Orchard Central, Singapore 238896

KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN

TRY: KYOCHON (JB)

Hankering for some authentic Korean fried chicken? Head down to KyoChon, Korea’s famous fried chicken that has opened its first outlet in JB. 

If you're undecided on the flavour to order, simply get the platter which consists of it Soy Garlic Series, Hot Pepper Series, and Honey Series. You'll be left with clean bones at the end of the meal.

Where: LG-048, The Mall, Mid Valley Southkey, No 1 Persiaran Southkey 1, Southkey, 80150 Johor Bahru, Johor

KOREAN BBQ

TRY: WANG DAE BAK RESTAURANT (SINGAPORE)

Wang Dae Bak Restaurant uses the traditional charcoal fire grills, so that its marinated meats are cooked to perfection. Round up a few hungry friends to enjoy more dishes from the a la carte menu, such as its kimchi pancake and kimchi jigae (stew).

Where: 98 Amoy St, Singapore 069918

melissagoh@asiaone.com